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• Wherefore if two triangles have the two fides equal to the two sides, each to each, and have the angle greater than the angle, the angle contained by the equal straight lines; they will also have the base greater than the base. Which was to be demonstrated.'

About a hundred and twenty pages of this performance are filled with directions to the student, and observations upon various parts of his author, which are frequently fo little to the purpofe, that a particular account of them would be unnecessary; especially as Mr. Williamson himself affirms that an author who writes upon fubjects of science may find it often by no means convenient to deliver himself in such a manner as to be always intelligible even to those whom he would wish to have for readers.'

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The Progress of Romance, througb Times, Countries, and Man. Tuo Volume's.

8vo. Śs. Jewed. Robinson. TH

HIS subject has been frequently examined, when it has oc

curred in larger works; but, as a part only of a whole, it has not probably been considered with the attention which it deServes. The romances of the fixteenth and seventeenth centuries have been so often the objects of ridicule, that authors have commonly decided without reading, and rejected without examination ; and almost every work, under the same title, has sunk into equal contempt. It was in vain to lead the reader to these forgotten fables, by telling them that they were once the sources of entertainment to the gay, the witty, and

even to the learned ; that from this fire Milton frequently kindled his torch, and scattered light and flame into metaphysical disquisitions, or austere complaints; that from this source he frequently threw an additional luftre on even his own splendid imagery. These and all other arguments will fail, for the torrent which has changed its source will

pursue it in spite of human efforts.

The author of the two little volumes before us seems to be bet. ter acquainted with these antiquated histories, than her predeceffors in the same department. Her views are more general and extensive: The pursues the whole train of ideal adventurers, collects them into groupes, and examines their pretensions. In this tract the sometimes feems to trespass on what the classical enthufiaft will call holy ground; for the dares, she boldly dares, to inGnuate, that the Iliad and the Odyffey are only romances. Let us examine this subject.

Dr. Johnson calls a romance ! a military fable of the middle ages ; a tale of wild adventures of war and love,' . This is certainly the idea wbich we commonly affix to romance; but it will be obvious that, if in the earlier periods, we find tales equally wild, containing fimilar adventures, we must not exclude them from this class. This will bring us more nearly to the definition of our author, viz. ' a fabulous ftory of such actions as are commonly ascribed to heroes, or men of extraordinary courage and abilities. Though there be nothing to object to the deseription, it is obvioufly too extenfive ; for it includes the epic poems, which, though they are arranged under a seemingly unexceptionable definition, are certainly not included in the original idea. The error is in the attempt to define what will not bear to be limited. From the Æneid, the most judicious and respectable form of the epos, to the moft incredible romance, there are so many fades, differing in a manper scarcely perceptible, that we can fix at no one point. It is the fame in the varying forms and functions, between a man and an oyster, yet they ought not to be arranged together; from the vegetable, upward to the animal, and down. ward to the mineral kingdom. In fact, when knowlege is extended, definitions are no more. It may be asked, as we have not objected to the definition which our author has adopted, why we will not include the epic poem in a class so refpectable as tkis will be in fuch circumstances ? For this reafon, that when we make our limits fo extensive, we destroy their use; we blend the most diffimilar objects, not only disli, milar in form and appearance, but in their constituent parts and effects. Romances, even in a more limited view, are certainly not peculiar to the middle ages; we have formerly hinted, that the Life of Theseus by Plutarch is trikingly of this kind ; in poetry, the Argonautics of Apollonius is a performance not very different; surely these ought not to be corfounded with the Iliad and the Æneid. Of dogs,

ger.

the valued file Distinguishes the swift; the flow, and subtle, The houfekeeper, the hunter; every one

According to the gift which bounceous nature ? Hath in him clofed ; whereby he does receive p". Particular addition, from the bill

That writes them all alike' ;. If we were obliged to point out any discrimination between Some of these histories more nearly resembling epics, and the epics themselves, it would be the conduct of the story. The fubject is a single one, and the conduct of it relates to that only. The story is taken up at the middle, at the part which is connected with the design; and, when it is accomplished, Suddenly breaks off. A modern performance, in its progress

;

resembling the epic, and in some of its events, the romance is De Solis’ Conquest of Mexico.

Perhaps we have already staid too long on the 'threshold but our author's opinion came in a delufive questionable shape. It was worth examining; and, if not true, worth refuting In pursuing the subject, this fancied analogy seems to have milled the enquirer. We allow that there is often a striking resemblance between works of high and low estimation ; but the resemblance is in some triling points: those who have read the Odyssey, and the Adventures of Sinbad the Sailor, cannot certainly perceive it in any great degree. Both authors undoubtedly possefs, bold imaginations, the adventures of each are marvellous, and the characters various; but the same refemblance will occur between the Arabian Nights Entertainments, and the plays of Shakspeare': should the!e very different kinds of composition be on this account confounded ?

The author begins with the early romances, which are principally those of the modern Greeks, and continues her' history through the middle ages, to the close of the year 1770. In many respects, this history is little more than a catalogue : the decisions are sometimes juft and candid ; but we cannot observe in them any deep discernment, or very accurate difcrimination. The catalogue is most perfect in the earlier pe. riods. The author is often deficient in determining even the moral tendency of different works ; fhe frequently seems to de ċide from common report.

We fall insert a short defence of Cervantes, which we fear is juít.

• The passion for these books, (viz, romances,) was in some degree checked; but it was 'not eradicated. - There is good reason to believe, that even Cervantes himself, was not cured of it.

Hort. Nay, if you animadvert upon Cervantes, I know not what to say :-but I shall expect proofs of this affertion.

Eupb. I shall produce them presently, — Besides his Galatea (of which he speaks with pleasure, and rescues it from the condemned books in Don Quixote's library, and after he had written his novels upon a new plan,) he composed a serious romance, called Perfiles and Sigismonda, which remains extant, as a proof against him. It is said that he preferred this to all his other works :-he compares it with the Æthiopics of Heliodorus, being written in the same style and manner. Whać Mall we fay of the man, who had produced Don Quixote, and could afterwards write a book of the same kind as those he fa: tyrizėd? May we not 'conclude that he still loved them in his heart?

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Hort. Permit me to offer a reason on his behalf,-a reason that makes me figh over the fate of genius.-Cervantes ! the gallant soldier !-the delightful companion !--the charming writer !--the pride and boast of his country ! - Cervantes wanta ed bread. he wrote this celebrated work in a prison, and knowing the taste and humour of his countrymen, composed such a book, as was most likely to please them, and procure relief to his miseries.?

We shall subjoin to this extract a judicious defence of the author of Eloisa.

• Rousseau saw that the women on the continent, while maidens, paid due respect to their honour and character, but as soon as they were married they entertained all the world, and encouraged gallants; of the two evils he thought a fingle perSon's indulging a criminal passion, of less pernicious conse quence to society, than a married woman who commits adultery :-upon this principle he wrote this book.--He puts the character of a woman who encourages lovers after marriage, in opposition to one who having committed the greatest fault beá fore marriage, repents, and recovers her principles.- He inforces the sanctity of the marriage vow, he sets the breach of it in a light to shock every considerate mind, he shews that where it is broken, nothing but hatred and disguf succeeds; the confidence a man Mould place in his wife, the tenderness he should feel for his offspring, is destroyed, and nothing remains batinfamy and misery

If Rousseau intended by this work to give a check to this thameful intercourse of the fexes, so frequently praclised on the continent, under the specious name of gallantry, he is to be commended ; and if it produced effects he did not foresee, he ought to be excused,'

On the subject of Richardson, we can allow for a little female partiality ; but his works are exalted too extravagantly, and those of Fielding proportionably depressed. Yet, in this account of the Progress of Romance,' there is' scarcely an attempt to delineate the literary character of these two great luminaries of the system, from whose example the most ftriking variations have been produced. The author's talents seem to have been so much exhausted in attempting to prove the absurd romances of the middle ages, to be epic poems, that she cannot attend to a new creation in the literary world, the comic epos, of which Tom Jones was so brilliant an example. The supreme judge of romances {peaks in this manper

of one of its mof finished ornaments.

• As I consider wit only as a secondary merit, I must beg leave to observe, that his writings are much inferior to Richardson's in morals and exemplary characters, as they are superior in wit

and

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and learning. --Young men of warm passions and not Atriệt principles, are always delirous to shelter themselves under the lanction of mixed characters, wherein virtue is allowed ic be predominant.In this light the character of Tom Jones is capable of doing which mischief; and for this reason a translation of this book was prohibited in France. On the contrary, no harm can poffibly arise from the imitation of a perfect character, though the attempt Mould fall short of the original,

Soph. This is an indifputable truth, there are many objectionable scenes in Fielding's works, which I think Hortensius will not defend.

Hort. My objections were in character, and your's are so likewise; as you have defended Richardson, fo I wilt defend Fielding:-1 allow there is some foundation for your remarks, nevertheless in all Fielding's works, virtue has always the sun periority the ought to have, and challenges the honours that are juftly due to her, the general tenor of them is in her favour, and it were happy for us, if our language had no greater cause of complaint in her behalf.

Euph. There we will agree with you.-Have you any further obfervations to make upon Fielding's writings ?

Hort. Since you refer this part of your task to me, I will offer a few more remarks. Fielding's Amelia is in much lower ettimation than his Joseph Andrews, or Tom Jones; which have both received the stamp of public applause.

To Dr. Smollett, the fair critic is somewhat more complaisant; but her account of his novels is so very trifling, that we are almoit ready to suspect that she has not yet read them.

Dr. Smollet's novels abound with wit and humour, which foine critics think is carried beyond the limits of probability; all his characters are over charged, and he has exhibited some scenes that are not proper for all readers; but upon the whole, his works are of a moral tendency,- their titles are, Roderick Random-Peregrine Pickle--Sir Lancelot Greaves--Ferdinand Count Fathom-Adventures of an Aton.-Many years after these he gave the public another, in no respect inferior, and in fome superior to them all, called Humphrey Clinker.'

We have given extracts of various merit, that the reader may judge for himself. If the decision is not in favour of the work, we are at least confident that it has not been influenced by a partiality in the selection. Its form is that of dialogue ; but, as it is conducted, it has all the inconveniencies, without the authority, which would have arisen from the sentiments having been attributed to men of character and learning. We have, however, examined this subject at fufficient length in a former Review. In the present inftance, the ceremonies at meeting and taking leave, the numerous compliments very freely beHowed, interrupt the subject, and cannot fail to difgust the

reader.

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